Resigning Oregon Gov. Kitzhaber Gonna Go To So Much Jail Maybe (Because He's A Democrat)
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber may be resigning effective Wednesday, unless he changes his mind again, but he and his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, still have a big ol' pile of legal problems. Both the state and now a federal grand jury are investigating the two for all sorts of possible corruption, ranging from the state's clean energy policies to a proposal for a new coal terminal at a port. For one thing, maybe they'll figure out how those things go together. The feds subpoenaed a broad range of state records from the state on Friday, not long after Kitzhaber announced his resignation.
It looks like the feds want to investigate virtually everything about how Kitzhaber ran state government and what role Hayes had in shaping policy, especially since she had consulting contracts with several groups whose ideas somehow ended up going into official state policy:
State officials are ordered to turn over to the grand jury records that are a catalog of Kitzhaber's climate and economy-related initiatives: Genuine Progress Indicator, Pacific Coast Collaborative, Oregon Prosperity Initiative, low carbon fuel standards and sustainable economic development.
Investigators are after any state record mentioning Hayes, her private consulting business and her role in the governor's office. They want her personal tax returns and those of her company dating back to 2009. The state also must turn over records of her use of state credit cards.
And they seemed like such a nice couple of progressive kids, too, sort of a downmarket version of late-'70s Jerry Brown and Linda Ronstadt, only without the pop music and plus Hayes's strange 1997 green-card marriage to an Ethiopian immigrant. Which isn't even part of the federal investigation; that's just a colorful background detail. As is the pot farm that a previous boyfriend owned. But how could a couple who loved the planet and visited the "Global Wellbeing and Gross National Happiness Lab" in Bhutan be corrupt?
The real scandally stuff appears to be related to Kitzhaber's and Hayes's "shared passion for a low-carbon energy future" and the lengths to which Hayes went to also make a few bucks consulting for groups that pushed green energy policy and all sorts of nice Oregoney things. They were in love, they wanted to save the ecosystem, and, oh, yeah, she was consulting for some groups that kinda-sorta were paying her to advocate for renewable energy, economic indicators that took environmental factors into account, and other policies.
In a Jan. 30 press conference that's been charitably described as "awkward," Kitzhaber denied there was anything untoward going on:
“The fact that Cylvia and I have some areas of common interest -- climate change being one, low carbon fuels being one, measuring outcomes through metrics being another -- the fact that we have a convergence of interest does not seem to me to imply that if those issues appear in my administration that influence is necessarily exerted,” he said.
On the other hand, she did persuade him early on in their relationship to switch his state vehicle from an SUV to a Prius, so there's that.
But then there's little oopsies like Hayes maybe not reporting $88,000 from a fellowship with the "Clean Economy Development Center" on her 2012 personal taxes, although it's not clear whether she did report that on her business taxes. So yeah, a lot of tangles between money and commitment to a Better Cleaner Oregon and also money.
Why do we have a sinking feeling that this is all going to somehow play out in the rightwing media as proof that climate change is fake and clean energy is just a scam? You don't suppose wingers would do something like taking one power couple's ethical lapses and turning it into a ridiculous anti-environmentalist message, do you?
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